Greek Turkey Burgers

Are you day dreaming of warmer weather?  If you are, we have the perfect recipe for you.  This is one of our favorites.  Put a new spin on Turkey Burgers with Dill Yogurt Dipping Sauce.  It’s a great way to get your kids to try new foods and an even better way to get your family to sit down for dinner together!

Photo Credit: amesis via Compfight cc

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, minced (optional)

Serve with dill yogurt sauce:

  • I cup fage yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh minced dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

 

 Method:

  1.  Mix ground turkey, chick peas, fresh spinach, crumbled feta, salt, pepper, oregano, ground cumin, and fresh dill.
  2. Shape into patties.
  3. Cook in 1 tbsp olive oil on med-high heat for about 20 min, flipping half way.

 

Something More Than Fish

 

Charlie tells his younger sister: “These are not fish sticks. These are ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea—mermaids eat them all of the time.”

—I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

As you know, I’m not perfect. Rather, I’m the real deal! I am the dietitian with the picky kids. My children definitely give me much practice about what I preach. And then, thank goodness, there are other times. I continue on this long journey of exposing my children to foods and trying my best to allow them to develop positive relationships with eating and neutral relationships with food. Mind you, this is no easy task. It’s a difficult balancing act. 

Our latest feat was fish sticks. Just remember that when we talk about fish sticks, we are really referring to something of a metaphor for life. Read on to learn more.

My youngest son Billy has been picky and often frustrating about food since the day he was born. At one point he loved Dr. Praeger’s Fish Sticks; he would eat four or five of them in one sitting. Billy’s enjoyment was of brief duration and he never seemed ready to reincorporate these ocean nibbles onto his personal “I really like this!” list despite our best efforts. Well, for some reason, this week was different. Once again, we offered fish sticks to Billy. To be exact, I made both boys fish sticks—a very child-friendly food—and put them on their dinner plates. However, I put only one fish stick on Billy’s plate. My husband and I were eating kale salad, herbed pork tenderloin and roasted potatoes. I know the boys won’t eat this dinner and I don’t make a big deal about it. This frustrates my husband, especially as the boys get older. However, when we push, like I did with the sweet potato puree (Read my recent blog, The Imperfect Food Mom), the boys push back.

In recent months, I’ve seen Billy eat a fish stick. I’ve actually seen him gobble it down! I can’t remember the specific circumstances around that particular meal. The one thing I realized was that he’s been playing us with the darn fish sticks. The way he scarfed down that fish stick made it clear that he really likes the taste or, at least, doesn’t mind the taste. Lately, I’ve been telling the boys how important it is to try new things whether they are sports activities or different foods. I have also been telling them: “You don’t need to eat your favorite foods every night. Mommy and Daddy sometimes make a meal that we don’t particularly enjoy, but we eat it anyway. Every meal doesn’t have to taste great. We just need to get nutrition from eating it. Eating our favorite meals happens just some of the time.”

So Billy looked down at his fish stick and immediately said: “I don’t like fish sticks.” I don’t recall my exact response at that moment, but by the end of our conversation, Billy was expressing his desire for Smart Puffs. (Note: I’m not a fan of Smart Puffs, but I do buy them on occasion because Billy is!) So I clearly told him: “You need to eat something with nutrition. You need to meet your body’s needs for growing. You can have Smart Puffs, but you haven’t eaten enough protein today.” As you might imagine, the little gamer asked: “Can I have some Smart Puffs if I eat my fish stick?” Well, of course! And he did. He happily ate his fish stick and then his Smart Puffs.

The next night we found ourselves with the same situation. This time, however, I put two fish sticks on Billy’s plate. He asked for his Smart Puffs and he got them after eating one and then the other fish stick. Please understand that this was not a food reward. I was not rewarding Billy for eating his fish stick. Rather, I was letting him know it’s okay to have all foods some of the time. You can eat foods lower in nutrition but not at the sacrifice/cost of a more nutritious food when growing…or just on a regular basis. 

After two consecutive nights of fish sticks, Billy asked if he could have fish sticks every other night rather than every night. Sure he can. I wasn’t planning to put fish sticks on his plate every night or even every other night. But since he thought I was—and he now thinks he made the decision about when to have them—I went with it!

I realize fish sticks are not the most nutritious nor desirable food one would want their children to eat. But when you have a picky eater, you must start somewhere. Knowing whether your child is playing you, knowing when to push, and knowing when a child is truly revolted by a food is a hard task to tackle. I choose to walk this line very carefully…and without any rush factor. I choose to do so because I clearly see the negative effects of creating power struggles around food between parents and children in my office. I successfully used this approach with my oldest son Bobby. He has become the best intuitive eater—slowly but surely reincorporating familiar foods and trying new foods almost daily now that he has turned six.

I do believe in the process of food exposure and sometimes even giving a little push. I remember my personal pickiness when I was a child. I actually think my vegetarianism and then veganism in high school and college were in part to send a direct message to my family. My message said: “You made me eat meat…and I didn’t like it!” It also said I am different from you because I eat different foods than you. The same things happen with my clients. I have teenagers either refusing to eat anything at all, or eating only certain foods. And they’re doing this partly to control their parents or get their attention. 

I don’t want to have power struggles about food with my children, so perhaps I am a bit more relaxed with food than others would think. As a parent, this is your decision too. Just recognize that feeding and eating isn’t simply a straight forward matter. Ultimately, it’s how individuals identify, label and communicate their inner selves to the world. This is the metaphor: What happens with food typically represents what’s happening with life at that time!

 

 

 

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Brussels sprouts have been all the buzz lately.  They’re a delicious side dish to any lunch or dinner.  Try this easy recipe from Cooking Lightwith your dinner tonight.  We’re sure you are going to be making more!

Courtesy of Cooking Light
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  
Preparation

1. Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.

2. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until almost tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Add sugar and Brussels sprouts; sauté 5 minutes or until brown, stirring occasionally.

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss.

The recipe and photo featured in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To read the original recipe please click here.

What Type of Parent are You at the Dinner Table?

What Kind of Parent are You at the Dinner Table?

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on www.DrGreene.com, the original post can be read here.

One of the fascinating aspects of being a feeding therapist that works with children in their homes is that I get to see first-hand the variations in parenting styles.

One particular family was memorable because both parents were security guards and they seemed to bring an element of their jobs to the family dinner table. They contacted me because their 5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, wasn’t gaining weight and was a “very picky eater.” When I arrived at their home, both Mom and Dad were completely engaged with their little girl, all three laughing and playing together on the living room floor.

Interestingly, the atmosphere shifted the moment everyone sat down at the table. There was practically no conversation except to announce what was for dinner and how much the little girl was expected to eat “Remember to eat all your corn, Elizabeth,” her father stated. The parents watched over her vigilantly and occasionally reminded her to “keep eating.” When the couple had finished their meal, and Elizabeth was staring at her not-so-empty plate, her father reprimanded her for “not eating her corn…again.” Noteworthy to me was the fact that both parents felt the need to set stringent eating rules, enforce them and remind Elizabeth if she did not follow dinner time guidelines. Clearly, their concern for her growth and nutrition were in the forefront of their minds, but why did they feel this directive style of parenting was going to be helpful? What happened to those engaged, interactive parents I had just witnessed playing so beautifully with their little girl in the living room?

To read more of this article, please click here to be redirected.

To read more about Melanie click here or go to www.MyMunchBug.com.

 

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

Are you getting chilly from the cold weather?  Try this delicious soup recipe from Cooking Light.  We’re sure that you won’t mind the cold weather after you’re warmed up with this yummy meal!

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

 

Ingredients

  • 7 cups fat free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs
  • 1 (19-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot 
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
  • 10 cup torn spinach leaves (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

 

Preparation

1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes. Drain through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.

2. Measure 1 cup beans, and mash with a fork in a small bowl. Reserve the remaining whole beans.

3. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.

4. Add onions, carrot, and celery; cook 4 minutes.

5.  Add broth mixture, mashed beans, whole beans, tomatoes, and barley; bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes.

7. Stir in spinach and black pepper; cook 5 minutes or until barley is tender.

8. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

*To ensure rich flavor, add garlic and herbs to canned broth for a homemade taste. Mashing a portion of the beans gives the soup extra body.

The recipe and photo used in this post were courtesy of Cooking Light. To see the originally posted recipe please click here.

Planning for Holiday Meals with a Picky Eater

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog. The original can be found here.

Photo Credit: slightly everything via Compfight cc
As an SLP  focused on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders,  there is one common denominator among all the families on my caseload:  The stress in their homes at mealtimes is palpable.   Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching,  the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.This time of year, I try to find practical ways to reduce the stress for these families.   One of the first steps in feeding therapy is for parents to lower their own stress level so that their child doesn’t feed into it (pardon the pun).   I often address parent’s worries with a “What IF” scenario.  I ask, “What’s your biggest fear about Thanksgiving?”   The top 3 concerns are as follows:

 

What IF Junior won’t take a bite of Aunt Betty’s famous green bean casserole?

It’s not about the bite, it’s about wanting Aunt Betty’s approval.   Focus on what Junior CAN do.  If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor.  Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time.  But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece.  If Junior can’t bear to touch the food because he is tactile defensive, what can he do?  Pick out the serving dish perhaps and escort Aunt Betty carrying the dish to the table?  Taking the time to make Aunt Betty feel special by showing interest in her famous dish is all Betty and Junior need to feel connected.

 

What IF Grandpa Bob reprimands Junior for “wasting food” or not eating?

Keep portions presented on the plate quite small – a tablespoon is fine.  Many families use ‘family-style” serving platters or buffet style, where everyone dishes up their own plate.  Practice this at home.  It’s not wasting food if Junior is practicing tolerating new foods on his plate.  That food went to good use!  If Grandpa Bob grew up during the Great Depression, this might be tough for him to understand.  If he reprimands Junior, change the subject and tell Junior your proud of him for dishing up one whole brussel sprout! That requires some expert balancing and stupendous spoon skills!

To continue reading, please click here to be redirected to ASHAsphere.

Division of Responsibility: Guidelines for Family Nutrition

Division of Responsibility:  The What, Where, Whether, and When versus How Much—Guidelines for Family Nutrition
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD

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Ponder the “division of responsibility” between a parent and a child when it comes to meal time.  I love it. I live it. I recommend it. Taking the power struggle away from the food sounds like a fabulous idea, doesn’t it? No more fighting at the dinner table when trying to get your kids to eat or even stop your kids from eating too much. Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian nutritionist, family therapist, and internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding, pioneered the Satter Feeding Dynamics Model and the Satter Eating Competence Model. She is the author of the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, the gold standard for feeding children. She educates parents on the line between what their job is and what the child’s job is when it comes to the food. The parent is in charge of WHAT food is brought into the house and served, as well as WHEN the food is given (meal and snack times; hopefully three meals and three snacks) and WHERE. The child is in charge of the HOW MUCH he/she will eat and WHETHER he/she eats what is served. When this line is crossed, usually by the parent, or the “feeder,” there begins the fighting and frustration.

 

I have stuck with the division of responsibility rule ever since I went to hear Ellyn Satter speak many years ago. Looking back, I feel lucky that I had the privilege of hearing her speak to professionals when my kids were learning the art of eating. I started to implement her model and still use it to this day with my seven-, eleven-, and thirteen-year-old. I can honestly say that by following the division of responsibility, there has never been any real issue around food at the table, other than the “I don’t like what you made” or the recipe I made tasted awful. Following this model, we can all enjoy a somewhat calm environment (hopefully not getting up from their seats to play with our new dog) and talk about our days or what the day might hold.

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As a parent who does the shopping, I know WHAT I want my kids to have more of and WHAT I want them to have some of the time  (Laura’s foods lower in nutrient density known as “sometimes” foods, such as their ice cream, cookies, brownies, and other foods that fall into this category in her book, Healthy Habits) throughout the week, so that helps my food shopping experience. I am also constantly figuring out the different parts of a complete meal.  Think “MyPlate” sources of protein, grain, healthy fat, vegetable and/or fruit, and possibly a milk/yogurt for snacks or with the meal. I also think about what they can eat that is more or less a complete meal yet is easy to make by themselves (especially for my eleven- and thirteen-year-old).

 

The WHEN aspect of the division of responsibility, for me and my family, is making sure they get their meals and snacks throughout the day to ensure energy during school and after school activities.. For example, I know that my boys have activities starting at 6:00 p.m. on some nights, so I will have a dinner for them WHEN they get home from school (they are always hungry when then get home from school) before their activity and usually WHEN they get home afterwards because they are usually hungry again,. This second feeding time is typically something on the lighter side.  The WHEN aspect for me is not a strict routine but arises when they are hungry; I would never make them eat if they weren’t hungry at the WHEN time, but I find that usually they are ready to eat at pretty consistent times of the day.  The WHERE is usually at home, not so much in the car; however, I know that on some nights the car will be WHERE a snack needs to be given.

 

The HOW MUCH and WHETHER are the hardest parts of the division. Sometimes my boys have voracious appetites and eat huge quantities, and other times they consume smaller amounts. I never comment on HOW MUCH they are eating because I never want to mess up their hunger and fullness cues and force them to stop/continue eating just because I would say “That is enough” or “You need to eat more.” I would rather use that language on homework. I have learned that even then I am overstepping my boundaries and it causes a power play.

 

The WHETHER is another difficult aspect to manage, but if you make something that you know your children will always eat, along with something new for them to try, at least you know they will be eating something. But there are those nights when nothing appeals to your child; when that happens, I settle on what’s easiest to warm up or prepare in a pinch.

 

When helping a parent out with issues surrounding food, I most often recommend Ellyn Satter’s books and methods. Sometimes parents look at me like I’m crazy for even suggesting that they keep quiet about HOW MUCH their child/children eat.  I always recommend trying Ellyn’s way for one week just to experiment with it!  I truly believe that it will make a happier child and a happier home when it comes to the food at the table!

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD

Fall is almost here! With school starting and the laid back days of summer ending, schedules begin to get busy again.  Even though I am a dietitian, I am still a mom, and have to admit that even I get crazed with having to decide what to cook for dinner for my family and myself. I have to figure out when to prepare it, and if I have enough time to do so, along with coordinating when to have food ready with my boys coming home at different times. It is exhausting! My clients face these same challenges and oftentimes have no one to help prep, cook, or clean up. So what would I, with these same problems, tell them? First, remember that no one can be superman or superwoman every night. Not every dinner will be a home-cooked meal and that’s okay! Go through your schedule and be realistic; figure out the days where cooking will be the most feasible and then consider this advice:

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  • Pick a weekend day and use it for prep; cut vegetables for soups or salads, cook rice or beans to refrigerate until ready, and chops onions and garlic for easy flavor boosts
  • If you have time earlier in the day, prepare food and save it to heat and eat later
  • Buy one prepared item and use it in a multitude of ways! If you a buy a rotisserie chicken, for instance, you can add it to lots of things:  tortillas, yellow rice and beans, soups, pasta, quinoa, salad, or chop it up to make chicken salad
  • Tacos are fun and easy to prepare, so make it taco night! Chop your toppings beforehand, store, and pull them out while the meat or beans are cooking
  • Stock up on organic, low sodium, high nutrition frozen foods and prepare a vegetable and whole grain to accompany it.   My kids love Amy’s Organic Mexican Bowls, Amy’s Organic Pizza Spinach Munchies, Dr. Praeger’s Fish Sticks, and pre-frozen veggie burgers that you can top with cheese and avocado and put in a whole grain bun. Remember, kids can have carbs!!
  • Everyone loves breakfast for dinner!  Omelet’s and pancakes are quick and easy. Add the chopped veggies from Sunday and throw some fruit in the pancakes and enjoy!
  • Soup is another great “heat and eat” meal! Prepare on a weekend or less busy night and freeze until needed. Chicken noodle with veggies, hearty bean soups, barley soups, or thick chili on a cold night are wonderful. Pair with some crusty bread and top with cheese or avocado and you have an easy meal
  • And last but not least, experiment with a slow cooker. This is a great way to prep casseroles, pulled pork, or even pasta sauces with little effort except for setting it and forgetting it.